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after a formal period of formation
and training that the diocese over-
sees. The ministry of the deacon is
threefold: service, the word (such
as preaching, catechesis, retreat
work, or counseling), and liturgy,
including leading certain parts of the
Mass and presiding at Baptisms and
weddings. Deacons may also be in-
volved with parish pastoral ministry.
Although a permanent deacon may
be married at the time of ordination,
if he is single at ordination, or if his
wife dies afterward, he is expected
to remain celibate. For more in-
This relatively rare form of life
involves living a life of prayer and
contemplation in solitude. A bishop
must be willing to accept the formal
petition of a person who wants to
be a diocesan hermit, and official
paperwork is involved. This eremiti-
cal way of life is an ancient tradition
and is described, in part, in canon
law as follows (Canon 603): “A her-
mit is one . . . dedicated to God in
consecrated life if he or she publicly
professes in the hands of a diocesan
bishop the three evangelical coun-
sels, confirmed by vow or other
sacred bond, and observes a proper
program of living under his direc-
tion.” Several books have been writ-
ten on the topic, including Consider
the Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit
Life by Paul A. Fredette and Alone
with God by Dom Jean Leclercq.
Secular institutes are a form of consecrated life in which members live
Secular third orders
Secular third orders—such as theLay Carmelites, the Oblates of St.
Benedict, and the Third Order of St.
Francis—are associations of laypeople who follow the inspirationand guidance of a religious orderwhile living in the world. Thirdorder members are usually receivedinto the religious community ina particular ceremony and pledgethemselves to certain prayers andreligious practices. For more information on secular third orders,inquire with individual communitiesthat have them. These communitiestend to be Franciscan, Carmelite,Benedictine, and Dominican.
Permanent deacons are men, usually35 or older and self-supporting, whoare ordained to minister in a diocese
SISTER MARSHASpeth, S.P. (left)and ProvidenceAssociatecandidate MaryGemma take awalk during aretreat of theProvidenceAssociates.
COUR TESY OF SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE, SAINT MARY-OF-THE-WOODS, IN